The Philippines Is Set to Acquire Its First Submarine in 2023, as It Prepares to Address Concerns Related to China in a David vs. Goliath Scenario

The Philippines Is Set to Acquire Its First Submarine in 2023, as It Prepares to Address Concerns Related to China in a David vs. Goliath Scenario
Illustration | lowy institute

The Philippines has recently made the decision to acquire its first-ever submarine, a move driven by the ongoing tensions with China in the South China Sea. This decision comes in response to increasing Chinese aggression and their use of Gray Zone tactics in the region.

The French Naval Group, one of the top contenders, has offered its Scorpene submarines to enhance the Philippines Navy's capabilities significantly. The Philippines has also received submarine offers from South Korea, Russia, and Turkey for local manufacturing. In addition to acquiring a submarine, the Philippines is looking to develop its submarine-building capacity and training capabilities. Reports indicate that Philippine Navy personnel have already undergone training in France, suggesting that the Naval Group's Scorpène-class diesel-electric submarines are a leading choice. These submarines are similar to those operated by Brazil, Chile, India, and Malaysia and feature six torpedo tubes and the capability to deploy 18 munitions, including SM 39 Exocet anti-ship missiles and F21 heavyweight torpedoes.

However, budget constraints have posed challenges to the Philippines' submarine acquisition plan, with an estimated budget of 70-100 billion Philippine Pesos (approximately 1.25-1.80 billion USD) for two submarines. This procurement is part of the Philippines Navy's Horizon 3 modernization plan, scheduled for 2023-2028. It will take at least five years for the first submarine to become operational once the deal is finalized.

The power imbalance between China and the Philippines is substantial, with China having a significantly larger GDP and maritime military capability. To counteract China's assertiveness and Gray Zone operations, the Philippines is seeking to strengthen its naval forces by acquiring a submarine, aligning with like-minded countries, and building internal capability.

China's Gray Zone operations involve non-military tactics aimed at coercing weaker countries, including economic influence, political interference, and misinformation. Deterring such aggression is challenging, and weaker nations can benefit from cooperation and information sharing to counter these tactics effectively.

In addition to the submarine acquisition, the Philippines has signed a deal to purchase BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles from India. This strategic move will bolster its defense capabilities, particularly in the South China Sea region. The Philippines is also forming strategic alliances with foreign powers in the Indo-Pacific, including the United States, to defend against armed attacks and assert its sovereignty in the face of China's territorial encroachments. This includes updating defense agreements and conducting joint maritime drills to deter Chinese aggression in the region.

Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
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